Raki is a local spirit which is an unsweetened alcoholic beverage flavored with aniseed. It is popular not only in Turkey but also in Greece, Iran, Turkic and Balkan countries, but in Turkey it is consider as National dirnk.. It is also similar to several other alcoholic beverages like pastis, sambuca, ouzo, arak which are available in countries around Mediterranean and in the Middle East
The traditional way of producing Raki is distilling grape pomace (or grape pomace mixed with ethanol) twice in traditional copper alembics of 5000 liters, and then adding aniseed. It is a quite strong drink which has 40%-50% volume.
Drinking raki has its own traditional rituals which have to be followed. As it is a strong drink it shouldn’t be drunk when hungry. It is commonly consumed with meze which is a selection of hot and cold starters but white cheese and honey melon are the main and unchangable “mezes”. Sliced tomatoe and cucumber,lettuce and seafood are also common accompany of raki.
Raki is served in narrow long glasses and first you need to add water in it and then ice. When you add water, because of the aniseed in it the colour turns into cloudy white. Due to its milk white appearance and mysterious power to open up even the most reserved person, it is called “ Lion’s Milk” and raki table is called “Çilingir Sofrası” which means locksmith’s table among local people.
Another ritual is when toasting, remember to do so with the bottom of the glasses clinking. Other wise if you do with the top of your glass means you think you are superior to other person.
One of the loveliest maybe the best raki traditions is to knock your glass lightly on the table after toasting in remembrance of someone who is wished to be there.
During your visit to Istanbul, if you would like to have a raki experience, you can do it at the terrace restaurant ontop of the hotel with an amazing Bosphorus view, or try one of the many restaurants available in Sultanahmet, Old Town of Istanbul.